Harrogate’s only Grade I listed building needs £2.5million of restoration work or it could be lost for future generations, fundraisers have warned.
St Wilfrid’s Church on Duchy Road will launch a community fundraising appeal this weekend to raise money to restore the stunning building.
Team Rector Father Gary Waddington said: “It is the only Grade I listed building in Harrogate itself, it comes with all the difficulties and challenges that listed buildings, and restoring churches come with.
“St Wilfrid’s is generally regarded among the clergy as one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the country.”
Even though the church, which was designed by Temple Moore, is little more than 100 years old it is in urgent need of care to avoid it becoming unused, community fundraising group member Pam Grant says.
Mrs Grant said: “We have seen other churches in the area boarded up or converted into flats and we don’t want to see that happening here at St Wilfrid’s.”
The church dominates the skyline of the north side of Harrogate and can be spotted in the distance from various points around Harrogate.
Despite that, Father Gary and many of the congregation regard St Wilfrid’s as somewhat of a hidden gem with many people failing to spot the cathedral sized church from Duchy Road.
Father Gary revealed even the Bishop of Leeds got lost on his way to the church.
He said: “That is part of my role to bring the community into the church. My role isn’t to be curator of a defunct museum, it is not about the building for a few people, it’s for the community to enjoy for years to come.”
In June 2014 the Heritage Lottery Fund granted money to the church allowing St Wilfrid’s to appoint a project manager.
The next stage will be to get detailed planning permission and the church must raise £500,000 in order to apply for further grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Father Gary said: “Everyone thinks it is a big church on the Duchy Estate, there must be loads of money, and that simply is not the case, we run at a loss of £50,000 per year.”
The church which has four chapels hosts 20 services each week, with over 1,000 people visiting every week and it costs £250,000 a year to run the church. Between midday on Christmas Eve and midday on Christmas Day at least 2,000 people pass through the doors of the Anglo-Catholic church.
Refurbishment works include new heating, new lighting and sound systems and the restoration of art work.
This Sunday the church will host a fundraising barbeque (£10 per ticket)